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Navy helicopter crew helps rescue 4 from capsized tugboat off Jekyll Island

Department of Natural Resources investigates if sinking damaged environment

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JEKYLL ISLAND, Ga. – The 56-foot tug boat Miss Addison sank in about 8 feet of water just west of Jekyll Creek's main channel on Wednesday night, but no one was hurt because the four-member crew was rescued.

The four were rescued by the Coast Guard after the Coast Guard was notified by a Navy helicopter crew assigned to the "Swamp Foxes" of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 74.

The crew aboard the MH-60R helicopter were conducting routine operations when they spotted the overturned tug and started coordinating the rescue.

“We were happy to be in the right place at the right time to offer assistance,” said Lt. Cmdr. Jim Hinds, pilot of the helicopter. “After witnessing the vessel capsize in real time, we were able to immediately respond and coordinate the rescue.”

“I am very proud of the crew’s actions,” said Cmdr. Thomas Eisenstatt, HSM-74 commanding officer. “Through their alertness they were instrumental in the rescue of the tugboat crew.” 

Jacksonville, Florida-based HSM-74 is part of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 3, attached to Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 10, also known as the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower CSG.

The Department of Natural Resources staff members are currently investigating if the sinking has caused damage to the environment. The Compliance and Enforcement Unit of CRD has contacted the vessel’s owner and insurance company.

All parties responsible for the vessel are cooperating with CRD. The owner of the vessel is coordinated with marine heavy-lifting services to have the vessel removed. “The goal is to refloat the vessel as soon as possible,” said Buck Bennett, CRD’s Compliance and Enforcement manager. “They’re going to try to get it floated by Christmas.”

The Miss Addison took on approximately 4,150 gallons of fuel on Wednesday in Charleston, South Carolina, and was estimated to have about 3,500 gallons remaining Thursday afternoon. CRD staff observed a sheen on the water Thursday morning and it is suspected the fuel is leaking into Jekyll Creek.

A fuel cleanup crew is also set to begin work at the site as soon as possible, Bennett added.

A recreational oyster harvesting area is southwest of the sinking site, but is not expected to be impacted by the fuel spill, according to Cason Kinstle, a shellfish specialist with CRD.

“Because of where the ship sank, the tide is carrying any fuel away from the harvesting areas,” Kinstle
said. “It’s also so far away from the harvesting site that we don’t anticipate it being a problem.”